Portsmouth is a lovely town on the New Hampshire coast... I used to visit there when I was in college. Among other things, it has the
USS Nautilus, the US's first nuclear submarineUSS Albacore, formerly the US Navy's fastest submarine (Thanks to Donovan Loucks and Dan Foley for correcting me on that). But it was a nice little touristy place, quite attractive, with some nice shops. And now I'm going back.
Why? Because Shroud Books is publishing Epitaphs, the first anthology of the New England Horror Writers Association. And I'm in it.
I wrote "Not an Ulcer" for the gay-themed Unspeakable Horror anthology. It was one of my bridesmaid stories, and something like the third story I’d seriously written. The anthology asked for a rewrite, which they ultimately rejected. But just being asked for a rewrite was pretty big. But Lee Thomas had a story with a similar concept called “I’m Your Violence.” Do I stack up against Lee Thomas? I think not! But hey, I got asked to do a rewrite! At that time, 2008, I was in the running for several anthologies, and although I was in the second-to-last cut for all of them, I didn’t get into any. I started calling these bridesmaid stories on this blog; always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
The story is based in some way in my job time in California, but no character is based on anyone I knew. I wanted to do a story about someone at war with himself. At first, there were several Rush Limbaugh references, but I’ve cut them out. People read stories to be entertained, not to be preached at.
The story takes a real chance with the main character–the first line makes it quite clear that he’s a bigot, very difficult to sympathize with him. But I'm good with character, and I like a challenge.
I originally send “Nicaragua 1986” for consideration, which was written with the intention of submitting it to Epitaphs. I sent “Not an Ulcer” as an off-chance, since it had been rejected by five different markets but Tracy liked it. I don’t do body horror often, and I did polish it a little after every rejection, so it’s a much stronger story now than when it was submitted to Unspeakable Horror.